The Morning After
I totally, totally loved “The Raid” (yes, even the ending)! It gave us an hour-long vision of Sam alternating between the sensitive soul who teared up when he realized all the betrayal that led to the BMoL having the Colt, to the outrageously hot, smart hunter who fired that Colt killing one of the “old ones”, the alpha vampire. “The Raid” also broke the British Men of Letters (BMoL) story wide open. It gave us our first look at the BMoL operation in America, a command center that supposedly rivals NATO Strategic Air Command. I was certainly impressed, and it was enough to thoroughly impress Sam. We learned more about Mary’s motivations and the secrecy between her and her boys ended. There’s so much to discuss! Let’s start with Dean.
Saving People, Hunting Things
“You’re a killer Dean Winchester.” – Rowena, 12.11 “Regarding Dean”
I specifically noted Rowena’s categorization of Dean in that episode. No doubt Dean was a killer when he had the Mark of Cain. Is that how everyone see him now, though? Is that his reputation? Is it deserved? Then in “Raid”, this phrase was exactly, precisely repeated:
Mr. Ketch: The MoL is an excellent fit for someone with our inclinations.
Dean: Our? As in you and me?
Mr. Ketch: You’re a killer Dean Winchester and so am I. And if we go too long without something to track or trap or punch or gut, well things get a bit ugly.
This is important! It isn’t an accident that the Supernatural writers have twice used the exact same wording to describe Dean. He is being profiled as a killer for a reason. Mr. Ketch’s description of himself intentionally echoed Dean’s confession to Sam at the very beginning of the episode:
Dean: You find us a case ‘cause I need to hit something… now.
Maybe Dean is being set up as the next Mr. Ketch, the MoL enforcer who can coldly and effectively clean up after everyone. Undoubtedly, the BMoL created a personality profile on Dean and that is driving the “old men’s” frantic recruitment of him.
In my view, that might be Dean’s inclination but it is not who he is anymore. What do you think? I believe Dean has been softened (for the better) by Sam’s influence of saving “all the people”. Dean’s own regrets have also changed him. He’s sorry he killed Sam’s friend Amy, the monster who wanted to be left alone to raise her son. Dean also knows some monsters can be good, such as Lenore, or Garth and his wife, not to mention that Dean had to alter his black and white definition of “monster” when Sam was filled to the brim with demon blood. Even though he may have been brought up that way, Dean is no longer the same type of hunter as Gordon Walker, who signed Sam’s death warrant without first getting to know him or his circumstances.
Still, there is a clear comaraderie and parallel being drawn between Mr. Ketch and Dean. Both Dean and Ketch are reliable, strategic, lethal weapons who love to use the biggest “toys” to get the job done, yet they bonded over their desire to attack the vampire nest mono a mono instead of using some elaborate guns. Beyond their warrior skills and affinity for cool weaponry, their lives have other parallels too. Dean used to take orders from John. Mr. Ketch now takes orders from the BMoL. They are both soldiers, much more than Sam or Mary or even Cas. Dean even noted how much he liked Ketch’s ride, saying “Nice bike” before we had even met the man himself.
This clear similarity between Dean and Ketch either has to do with Dean’s future role in the BMoL or in the “cosmic” fight that is approaching because Castiel killed Billie. I’m deeply intrigued either way. There’s something afoot regarding Dean.
I have a second, bigger-picture theory about Dean and Mr. Ketch’s now being “jolly good pals”. The dialog above is clearly implying Dean is like Mr. Ketch. Reverse the comparison, though, and a new possibility emerges. What if we aren’t so much supposed to think of Dean as the new Mr. Ketch as we are being asked to think of Mr. Ketch as Dean?
Mr. Ketch is who Dean would have become without Sam. Now that Sam is in the BMoL fold, maybe Mr. Ketch will also now be influenced by Sam’s sensitivities. For example, neither Sam nor Dean would approve of Ketch’s execution of the psychic teenager, or the intelligence agents in the secret compound. Perhaps Mr. Ketch will evolve similarly to Dean and see there are grey areas in supernatural abilities, and that no humans should be considered collateral damage. Alternately, Mr. Ketch may fail to evolve and we will be shown what would have happened to Dean without Sam.
Taking this theoretical storyline one step further, Mr. Ketch has clearly been impressed with Mary. He was first impressed with her fighting skills:
When you hunt Mary, you’re one of the best I’ve ever seen – Mr. Ketch, 2.13 “Family Feud”
After their first vampire kill in “TheRaid”, he complimented Mary again,
Mr. Ketch: Nice work today. Ah. The AVD. I do love a new toy.
Mr. Ketch: Another nest terminated. No complications. A bit boring really.Mick: Good. Boring’s good. And how’s Mary?Mr. Ketch: Excellent, as always.Mick: Did she say anything about her boys?Mr. Ketch: As I’ve said many, many, so many times, we don’t need them. We already have the best Winchester.Mick: Yes, but that’s not your call is it, or mine? The old men want them on board. As far as Ireland’s concerned [a key point that I bet is developed further], where Sam and Dean Winchester go, the rest of the American hunters will follow.
So if Mr. Ketch is attracted to Mary, I see a path where Mr. Ketch takes John Winchester’s place! There are several parallels that support this idea! First, Dean has been compared to John countless times - he and his dad saw the world in the same way, Dean has John’s skills, etc. There’s some mathematical theorem that states if Dean is like John, and Dean is like Mr. Ketch, then John is like Mr. Ketch. Follow? (You thought you’d never use that math!) If we start drawing parallels between John and Ketch then, John was also a cold, hard hunter whose world revolved around Mary, just as Mr. Ketch is a ruthless, driven killer who has most recently paired himself with Mary. Mr. Ketch’s past romantic entanglement was also notably introduced in “Raid”:
Mr. Ketch: “I had a sneak peek at the neurotic, over-reaching time bomb she was. We used to date.Dean: Yeah, I can see that.
This is a extremely key conversation! On the surface, it explains why Lady Bevell hated Mr. Ketch so much. Her references introduced us to him as a “psychopath” and we were led to believe he was the devil incarnate. If her opinion was jaded, though, a great number of plot problems are solved. First, no one, not us, Sam, Dean or Cas, trusted the BMoL because we saw the cruel Lady Bevell and Mr. Ketch as the just-following-orders enforcers for the true BMoL organization. I for one didn’t believe Mick’s claims that she was the rogue. If, however, she truly was the rogue with a biased opinion of Mr. Ketch, then Mick was telling the truth all along. We then have to shift our viewpoint to believe Mick – that Lady Bevell was acting on her own, the BMoL did not condone her actions, and he and BMoL are sincere in their altruistic desire to rid the wold of monsters. Once you make that all important shift, Sam’s decision to join them makes sense (Don’t worry, I’ll get to that later.)
Besides giving us reason to cast aside Lady Bevell’s representation of Ketch and the BMoL, the underlying implication of Mr. Ketch’s revelation is that he has a romantic history. Given that, the writers want us to now see him as a handsome, available man who dates. He is also attracted to strong women, he understands the real world we live in, is skilled at hunting, and from his parallels with Dean, is a lot like John Winchester. I see a future for Mary and Ketch!
Have I lost you? Have you totally given up on me? Let me push my luck a little farther. Let’s talk about Sam’s decision to join the BMoL.
Just as Dean is attracted to grenade launchers and big guns with cool sights and silencers, Sam’s eyes lit up when he saw a room full of networked computers. He was immediately drawn in by the BMoL’s “smart” approach to hunting. Their one analyst had three PhDs! Yet Sam wasn’t swayed stricly by “toys”. His attention didn’t pique until they talked about wiping out 241 vampires in a 12 state region in a coordinated attack. I don’t for a second believe he has lowered his guard or truly “trusts” them, but he sees the advantage and logic in applying modern technology to the war he’s waging. Why should he continue to use 20th century weapons of guns and knives in the 21st century? He has the knowledge and ability to up the game.
Do I think Sam betrayed Dean by siding with Mary? Dean himself voiced the reason why I think they’ll all see the others’ point of view:
It’s not your job to make my lunch and kiss me at night. We’re adults. You’re going to make your own choices even if I don’t like them. Even if I really, really don’t like them. It’s just something I’m gonna have to get used to. Okay mom?
Sam also told Mick to give him time to talk to Dean. I think Sam will be open with Dean and try to convince him of a new, smarter way to fight. Sam also used his hunting knowledge in planning their defense against the vampire attack. In proving to Mick that field experience is as crucial to the strategy as it is to the execution of the plans, Sam was true to his upbringing and thus his brother. He understands and dearly values Dean’s tactical and field knowledge of monsters and thus won’t ever leave Dean behind. Sam already saved them all by applying his first-hand intel on the Alpha’s whereabouts and activities, and of course, knowing how to make kill-all bullets for the Colt.
Once again, Sam and Dean are the hybrids that combine the best of the BMoL’s intellectual approach with the hunters’ field knowledge and skills.
Do I think Sam has forgotten what Mary did and now all is forgiven? No. He was terribly hurt when he saw that she gave the Colt to the BMoLs,
lied to her sons about their mission, and never consulted with them about its usefulness or history.
Still, he understands making mistakes and hurting those he loves the most, so I think they’ll eventually reconcile. After all, they’re family.
Mothers and their Sons
Sam took the time to hear Mary’s reasoning. It was heartfelt. She has the best of intentions.
This is bigger than us, Sam. We have a real shot here… at a world without monsters, a world where you and Dean don’t have to hunt. You can have normal lives… What if there was a different future for you? For us? That is why I’m doing this. That is what I’m fighting for… Things are changing. [A callback to the “Change” thread at the beginning of the season]
As we suspected, she wants to work toward a better life for her family. Her perspective is unique. She’s seen 3 generations fight and die in an vicious cycle of never winning enough ground to end the war with monsters. In an extremely emotional, powerful confession, arguably the most emotional scene we’ve seen from any of the Winchesters all year, we got to hear not only “what she was thinking” but how Sam and Dean felt too.
Mary: I’m doing this for you. I’m playing three decades of catch up here.Dean: and we’re not? How do you think this has been for us? We’re your sons and you’ve been gone. Our whole lives, you’ve been gone. You said you needed time, no you said you needed space so we gave you your space. But you didn’t need just space. No. You needed space from us.Mary: That’s not true. Dean, I’m trying.Dean: how about for once you just try and be a mom?Mary: I am your mother but I am not just a mom and you are not a child.Dean: I never was. So between us and them…Mary: It’s not like that.Dean: Yeah Mary it is. And you made your choice. So there’s the door.Mary: Sam?Sam: You should go.
In this moment, Sam sided with Dean. Certainly Sam was deeply hurt, but his hurt was compounded by his support of Dean, overriding Sam’s “peacemaking” nature and resulting in him confirming that “Mary” should leave. That action sent a loud message that Sam would never betray Dean; that his loyalty would always be to Dean. That is another reason why I’m not worried about Sam’s decision to join the BMoLs.
Sam is different than Dean in that Sam sees all sides of an argument. He was the first to reach out to Mary, and hear more about her point of view. I applaud her courage in trying to do something, anything, different than the years of fighting and dying! Once he saw what she saw, he sided with her in this one thing:
I’m in. Look, tonight was bad, no doubt but the alpha vampire is dead. You’re changing the world and I want to be a part of it.
As Mary said, and we all totally agree, she messed up, but both Sam and Dean know what that feels like. They will be a stronger team working with rather than against this new asset that awkwardly, clumsily entered their war. I’ve already picked my side. I’m for the Winchesters – all three of them. I think it’s worth giving the BMoLs a chance to prove themselves. Besides, as I said during the live tweet, the death of the alpha and the upgrade to the allies’ toolchest brings us unmistakedly closer to the vision I have for the end of the series. To me, “There’ll be peace when you are done” means the Winchesters will have won the war. I believe with every fiber of my being that this long and winding road they are on leads to the eradication of all monsters in the world. The Winchesters, Sam, Dean and now Mary, are the game changers. They bridged the MoL legacy with the hunting community in America, and that combined knowledge and strength, plus the compassion that has resulted from all their mistakes and their drive to save people, will lead them to victory. The alliance with the BMoL is a necessary alteration in the ancient approach that has never worked.
Does that mean I think their association with the BMoLs won’t go south? No, and here’s why.
Growing Old/ Ancestors/ History/ Time
Dean: You’re here to recruit us. You already have Mary playing your game and you want me, and Sam.Mr. Ketch: Well I don’t, but the old lads have taken quite a shine to you.
“The Raid” once again contained severel references to the age of those who are pulling the strings. As I’ve stated before, I think there’s a good possibility that Asmodeus is at the top of the BMoL hierarchy, and is using them to rid the world of not only rival monsters, but all thinking, strategic, dangerous hunters who might figure him out one day. His “hobby” is a very long chess game where his checkmate is emilinating all threats to his power. Mick will be just as blind to this strategic play as he was to the lower rank traitor in their midst, Pierce, and the alpha’s attack. Having a mole in the BMoL organization in America could very well foreshadow having a bigger traitor at headquarters.
Bringing back the alpha was also a callback to the ancient evils. His speech was filled with references to our Threads! Listen to his and Sam’s whole conversation again, starting with this mention of his age:
I’m old. I like living quietly but you’ve been making my life awfully noisy lately. You’ve killed so many of my children lately. I’ve seen your work.
A few weeks ago, a Prince of Hell was killed. This week, an alpha. Slowly the boys are cutting down the core of all monsters, all evil.
It’s curious that both Bobby and Rufus were also mentioned in this episode. Their’s was an “old” partnership. Maybe they are coming back in a future story? I’m certain Bobby will be back. He’s too integral to the Winchester history and too loved by the fans to be forgotten. Maybe a flashback of when the boys were young to coincide with Mary’s perusal of John’s journal? Other Ideas?
Mr. Ketch: This is a MoL bunker. The location is no secret to us.
Speaking of the journal, I’m ready to admit defeat on the theory that Mary was chasing an old case in John’s journal. It seems the secret she was keeping was her affiliation with the BMoL. They would account for almost all of her time after she visited Lawrence, Kansas the last time. Now that Sam knows about the Colt, all Mary’s secrets seem to be out in the open. I bet this thread gets stronger again though when we’re ready to hear about the “secret” I suspect is within the BMoL organization!
Good vs. Evil
It is interesting that “The Raid” continued to look at how “good” and “bad” are defined in the hunting world. Boring is “good”, Dean’s talk with Ketch was “good”; Mick’s sales pitch was “good”. When Pierce entered the inner sactum of headquarters, he said,
It’s bad out there. It’s pretty bad in here too.
Then there was the judgment of how people should be treated:
Mary: I’m the one who burned his body. I’m the one who told his wife. I watch him die every night.Dean: Good.
While enraged with Mary, Dean said it was good that she felt guilty about Wally’s death. Similarly, Sam and Mary were unsympathtic when Mr. Ketch admitted that Pierce would probably be tortured and killed:
Mr. Ketch: We have ways of dealing with hunters who go rogue. They aren’t pleasant.Mary: GoodSam: Good.
I enjoyed this episode just as much during rewatch as I did the first time it aired. It was about alliances and pairings, loyalties and betrayals.The VFX was outstanding and we actually had emotional moments from Sam and Dean (hug count still at zero, though), and I'm throwing in this picture because... well, you know why.
I predict the episode will be pivotal to the season 12 mytharc, and if my guesses are correct, several seasons beyond that. Let’s start figuring out if the changes this week make sense to the plot and characters and if you share my interpretations! Go!
Screencaps courtesy of http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/